Best of 2009

Floppypants: Top 5 of 2009
 
I decided to trim this list down to just five games instead of ten.  I think expanding the list out beyond five is a bit pointless.  Overall I think 2009 was a shitty year in games, but I'll save that rant for somewhere else.

List items

  • As someone who already enjoyed the first Assassin's Creed (warts and all), it wasn't hard for me to fall in love with AC2. The fun combat and climbing from AC1 is still there, but layered on top of it was an incredible story staring this year's best protagonist: Ezio.

    Ubisoft did an amazing job with Ezio. Like in a great movie, Ezio's character undergoes tremendous development; from the beginning of the game as a carefree youth, to the end when he's become a legendary assassin. The story is so well done its even able to add dramatic weight to what could have otherwise been mundane tasks. Feather collecting, replacing flag collecting from AC1, is given heartfelt meaning in honoring the memory of your slain sibling and easing your traumatized mother. It takes truly masterful writing in being able to instill satisfaction through story rather than challenge, and AC2 has that.

    Also, I have to say, this game has my year's favorite soundtrack. I could listen to the tranquil Home in Florence track on loop forever.

  • BioWare did a fantastic job in bringing back this old formula, and completely redeemed my love for PC gaming. While I had a hard time back in the day getting into Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age had the perfect learning curve without compromising challenge. To my delight the default difficulty setting was actually difficult and forced me to use squad tactics to make it through the game. It wasn't before long that I had a fleshed out team of characters, where each person had a specific, critical role in combat. It was thrilling to win battles that felt like they were scripted for me to lose.

    Outside of combat, Dragon Age takes the cake for voice acting in 2009. The amount of spoken dialogue in this game is staggering, and all of it is interesting. I spent hours and hours and hours just talking to people. It was engrossing and really helped pull me into what was otherwise a rather bland fantasy world.

  • If Super Mario Bros. were Gaming 101, Demon's Souls would be a graduate level 500 course. This is easily one of the most divisive games of '09. The game is unapologetic with its difficulty, which actually lends the game a lot of atmosphere it might have otherwise not had. If this game had an easy setting, it would just seem incredibly boring and pointless, and you'd probably beat it in a couple hours. Instead, since the game is so hard, you have to play it as cautiously as if it were real life. Once you do that, once you put yourself in your character's shoes, Demon's Souls can suddenly become a profound experience.

  • Borderlands is able to turn everything that made Diablo 2 so addictive into a great first person shooter. While I felt the setting and story got boring quickly, collecting guns and leveling up my character was too much fun to put down the controller. My level 50 Brick anxiously awaits for DLC that raises the level cap, or a full fledged sequel.

  • "Metroidvania" was a word I hadn't heard before 2009, but it was being said nonstop around this game's release. To its credit, Shadow Complex isn't only a mere imitation of the Metroidvania formula, but it's able to step above and shine as any good AAA game title does. If only the game lasted longer, it would have been much higher on this list.